This is the Dentons profile for those considering solicitor apprenticeships. Students looking to apply for training contracts should check out Legal Cheek‘s main Dentons profile.
With nearly 6,000 lawyers spread over more than 80 countries, Dentons distinguishes itself through its vast global presence – an eye-catching selling point for any adventurous aspiring solicitor. As standard for a law firm with such impressive reach, it boasts a seemingly unending number of practice areas. Apprentices can expect, however, to gain experience in the firm’s core specialisms, which include banking & finance, corporate, dispute resolution, energy, and real estate. With a cohort of apprentices who are already qualified, Dentons is one of the forerunners of the solicitor apprenticeship scheme, and so recruits can benefit from the firm’s solid experience in the field.
One fifth-year apprentice, currently residing in the corporate department, tells us about what drew her to the solicitor apprenticeship route. “I wasn’t massively fussed about the thought of going to uni,” she remarks, “and I had always known I wanted to work in law ultimately. So, once I stumbled upon the apprenticeship, I thought – ‘if I want to go into law, I might as well do it this way!’.” She admits that given how competitive the apprenticeship route can be, she thought it was “probably a long shot” but applied anyway, ultimately finding herself successful.
Amongst the firms she chose to apply to, Dentons really stood out. “Dentons’ international reach was a big draw when I was applying, and I can confirm now that this truly pays dividends. Since working here, I’ve had experience working on projects where I’ve been in contact with counsel in 40 different countries – which is just so cool!” But it’s not just the impressive global presence of the firm that drew her in. “Also, the people at Dentons are really friendly and easy to get on with. I know that everyone waxes on about the culture at their firm, but this really rings true at Dentons.”
Speaking of the overall structure of the apprenticeship, recruits can expect to rotate annually around the firm to different seats across the first four years. “Usually, you can rank your first four practice areas and you will tend to be allocated one of those for your next seat,” an insider tells us. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have my first choice each time.” When asked about her favourite seat so far, she says: “I’ve honestly really enjoyed all of them, I think I’ve been quite lucky. But, for me, my seats in employment and corporate were my favourite”. Her time in employment, she says, was particularly interesting as she found herself dealing with unique legal issues born out of the pandemic.
In the final two years, apprentices join the firm’s graduate trainees to undertake four six-monthly seat rotations. This means apprentices can gain legal experience in a whopping eight practice areas throughout the course of the programme — a big plus given the size of the firm and variety of work on offer.
But what does this work really look like? “I’ve always felt like I’ve had quite a high level of responsibility, but what that looked like in my first year was very different to now,” another current apprentice tells us. “So, at first, more admin-level tasks felt a lot more challenging.” Luckily for school-leavers, recruits aren’t thrown straight into the deep end! And even though for the first couple of years apprentices can experience a reasonable amount of admin work, we are told that “the level of responsibility increases over time so that apprentices never feel underwhelmed or overwhelmed.”
By year three, experienced apprentices can expect to take on work which is more trainee-equivalent, although “the amount of work and the hours you’re working are lighter for apprentices in comparison to trainees up until the final two years”. With hours averaging 9-6.30pm, working after 7pm is “definitely quite rare in the first four years of the apprenticeship,” our insider tells us.
Of course, alongside seat rotations, apprentices will undertake the standard one day per week study day to earn their LLB with BPP, before being enrolled into the Solicitors Qualifying Exams (SQE). How do current apprentices balance work with studies? “In the first three or four years, seven or eight hours on a Monday is enough to fit everything in,” we are assured. But only “you’re organised!” However, one interviewee admits, “it definitely gets tougher. I’d say around the start of the fourth year, the intensity builds up a little bit more. It’s challenging; not an easy balance to strike.” But again, we are told “it’s manageable if you’re organised.” As the apprenticeship progresses, recruits can expect a bit more intensity on the studying side. “Now, as a fifth-year apprentice, I will be using more of my free weekend hours to study,” the apprentice tells us.
However, it seems that Dentons are supportive of their apprentices’ needs. “Dentons give two days of study leave for exams, and I also like to take some annual leave during these periods. You’ll never have a problem with having these days approved,” they say.
And hopeful apprentices need not fear missing out on an active social life, as this insider explains: “Last week, I had two big socials. We had a social for our new apprentices, so we went to Puttshack – it was really entertaining to see who really thought they were a golfing pro, and were in fact not!” The very next day, “I had an ‘away’ day for the corporate team across the UK, and we did a scavenger hunt around London where the teams had to take funny videos at different locations. It was loads of fun.” And if that isn’t your bag we’re told there are plenty of apprentice socials, with regular meet-ups on Thursdays for drinks.
Offering some words of wisdom to potential, an apprentice tells us: “Do your research carefully because you’re committing to a six-year programme. Also make sure you know what you want. If Dentons is the place for you, then be yourself. Dentons is a place where they really value people being their authentic selves, so bring this to the application and bring this to the apprenticeship.”
This is Dentons’ Solicitor Apprenticeship profile. Read Dentons’ full Legal Cheek profile here.